UPDATED February 22, 2017
Two of India's top basketball players will be heading North-East next month as the marquee names in season three of the Mizoram Super League (MSL). Superstars Amritpal Singh and the veteran Yadwinder Singh have signed with the MSL team Zarkawt BCA for season three, which is set to begin from March 21, 2017. India's international star Amjyot Singh signed for Tuikual South Basketball Club.
The MSL was announced by the Mizoram Basketball Association (MBBA) in the state's capital city Aizal in November 2014 and launched early in 2015. Zarkawt's bagging of the two national superstars isn't unprecedented; last year, India internationals Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Pratham Singh both played for the Tuikual South Basketball Club and helped them win the league title. The arrivals of Amritpal and Yadwinder makes Zarkawt virtual favourites to win the league in Season 3.
Amritpal Singh has captained India in various international tournaments and has been a linchpin for the national team for several years. He and Amjyot Singh have also played professionally in Japan's BJ Summer League and the Japan's Development League, winning the title in the latter for the Tokyo Excellence. Last year, they declared their names for the NBA's D-League draft but weren't picked. Amjyot is one of India's top players and has been ranked one of the top 3x3 players in the world. Yadwinder Singh has a part of India's national squad for almost a decade and continues to be an important veteran presence off the bench.
While other sports have raced ahead through professional leagues in India, basketball has lagged behind, due to a split within the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), among various other reasons. The MSL is one of the few part-time leagues in the country, the most popular of which is the UBA. The UBA, however, launched their league without full affiliation with the BFI, and the BFI disallowed players associated with India's international/domestic basketball structure from taking part in the UBA League. This is why several players like Bhriguvanshi and Pratham last year and Amritpal and Yadwinder this year have taken for any paying basketball option they could find. Last year, Bhriguvanshi and big man Rikin Pethani also played in a pro league in Maldives.
And of course, no such article would be complete without another hopeful nod towards the BFI's own full pro league in India. No matter how many years pass, I'll keep hoping for that big news, one melancholy blog post at a time.